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Perfection: don’t let it be the enemy of good enough

Perfectionism is one of the biggest roadblocks to fast and effective decision-making because it operates on flawed all-or-nothing thinking.

Perfect isn’t possible and when we try to wait on it, and achieve it, nothing gets done.

You can never know everything or anticipate every eventuality. And trying to is paralyzing.

So if you can’t achieve perfection, go for good instead. Gretchen Rubin describes it this way: “Instead of pushing yourself to an impossible ‘perfect,’ and therefore getting nowhere, accept ‘good.’ Many things worth doing are worth doing badly.”

Melody Wilding is an executive coach and author of “Trust Yourself: Stop Overthinking and Channel Your Emotions for Success at Work.” In her recent article in the HBR she recommends asking yourself these questions to help overcome perfection paralysis:

  • Which decision will have the biggest positive impact on my top priorities?
  • Of all the possible people I could please or displease, which one or two people do I least want to disappoint?
  • What is one thing I could do today that would bring me closer to my goal?
  • Based on what I know and the information I have at this moment, what’s the best next step?

It’s much easier to wrap your head around a single next step rather than trying to think 10 steps and two months ahead.

So how do you apply this “good enough” thinking in your daily experience? Here are some options:

  • Business Idea: Don’t strive for an airtight approach or plan, launch your business, announce your product, go into that new market.
  • Software: Instead of fixing every last bug, ship it.
  • Email: Instead of trying to create a perfectly worded email, just get the message out.

The pursuit of perfection is admirable, but you can end up with nothing to show for it if you’re not careful.

Go for the good to achieve amazing things.

Have a great week.

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